This country's score has worsened since 2014.
Recognition of animal sentience and prohibition of animal suffering
This goal assesses whether animal sentience has been recognised in legislation and explores the core legislative protections granted to animals, such as the prohibition of animal cruelty.
Animal Sentience is formally recognised in legislation
The Animal Protection Law (Law 14346 ) published in 1954, prohibits ill treatments against animals. The Law does not define ‘animals’, hence it can be assumed that this legislation is applicable to all animals. Among these provisions, there are prohibited conducts including overloading animals and the practice of invasive surgery. Although animal sentience is not specifically acknowledged in the law, the content of the law does acknowledge some aspects of sentience because it acknowledges that animals can suffer physically. There is no mention of mental suffering inflicted on animals. Law 14346 prohibits deliberate acts of cruelty inflicted to animals: for example, Article 3(7) prohibits intentionally causing unnecessary suffering. However, there is no prohibition on a failure to act in case of animal cruelty.
Since the API was first published, interesting developments occurred with regards to granting legal personhood to animals in Argentina. In 2014, Pablo Buompadre, President of the Association of Officials and Attorneys for the Rights of Animals (AFDA) brought a writ of habeas corpus against the Government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and the city Zoological Garden of Buenos Aires, on behalf of an orangutan named Sandra. AFADA argued through the court case that Sandra had been deprived of her freedom by the authorities of the zoo, causing a grave deterioration of her mental and physical health, with imminent risk of death. Argentina’s Federal Chamber of Criminal Cassation ruled that animals are holders of basic rights. The Court stated that ‘it is necessary to recognise [Sandra] an orangutan as a subject of rights, as non-human subjects (animals) are holders of rights, to it imposes her protection.’
In 2016, similar proceedings occurred when AFADA brought another writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Cecilia, a 30-year-old chimpanzee who lived in the Mendoza zoo, alleging that the chimpanzee had been illegitimately and arbitrarily deprived of her freedom and right to have a dignified life. The court granted the habeas corpus to Cecilia, ruling that she was a living being with rights and mandating her immediate release from the zoo, to be relocated to a sanctuary in Brazil.
The main national Argentinian law on the protection of animals was enacted in 1954; the Government is encouraged to update it in order to introduce further elements of sentience. As the law stands today, it is useful to introduce animal welfare into some policy discussions, and further acknowledgment and comprehension of the concept of sentience should help to develop the existing animal protection legislation.
Law 14346 adds a series of offences to the Argentinian Criminal Code. There is an allocated responsibility for implementation of the law, but there is no identified organ or body for policy or secondary legislation development in the system. On the issue of sentience recognition, this means that the existing framework does not allow for a mechanism or procedure for progress. However, this may not necessarily prove to be a barrier to progress if the government wishes to take action to improve its animal protection legislation.
The recent court cases about granting legal personhood to animals are extremely promising in terms of fully recognising animal sentience and acknowledging that animals should be holders of rights.
The enforcement mechanisms set out in Article 1 of Law 14346 are relevant to the partial recognition of sentience in that law. Infringement is a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment of between 15 days and one year.
• Given the extensive body of scientific evidence proving that animals are sentient, the Government of Argentina is urged to recognise that all animals for whom there is scientific evidence – at least, all vertebrates, cephalopods and decapods crustaceans – are sentient beings and to enshrine this principle into legislation. Recognising animals as sentient will underpin further animal welfare considerations.
Laws against causing animal suffering
Article 1 mandates that anyone inflicting ill-treatment to animals will be imprisoned from 15 days to one year. Article 2 defines which conducts are considered abusive to animals: using instruments which cause them unnecessary pain; over-working animals; using animals who are not in good physical health; stimulating animals with drugs without therapeutic uses; employing animals in the shooting of vehicles that exceed their strength.
Presence of animal welfare legislation
This goal explores animal protection laws in relation to various categories of animals, namely: farm animals, animals in captivity, companion animals, working animals and animals used for entertainment, animals used for scientific research and wild animals.
Protecting animals used in farming
Rearing - pigs
No legislation has been found specifically relating to the rearing of pigs.
Rearing - broiler chickens
Rearing - egg-laying hens
Rearing - dairy cattle and calves
Decree 1248 of 1975 regulates the treatment of animals during the transportation of livestock. Article 1 prohibits the use of instruments that might injure animals. Article 3 contains the requirements of the cages used in transportation, demanding that they are adequate according to the species, breed and weight of the animals. Sufficient space must be left between animals in cages, in order to avoid suffocation. The flooring of cages must also be adequate to facilitate washing and disinfection. Cages with animals in them cannot be thrown during loading and unloading operations, and sudden movements that could hit or injure the animals should be avoided.
Protecting animals in captivity
Private Keeping of wild animals
Protecting companion animals
Care of companion animals
At a provincial level, the province of Buenos Aires has produced specific legislation (Law 13879 of 2005) on stray animal population control. This legislation abandons the idea of culling as an acceptable method and establishes sterilisation as the only applicable method in the province. It also introduces obligations to deworm cats and dogs, as well as reiterating that animal abuse, as described in Law 14346, is prohibited.
The Buenos Aires legislation has provided inspiration to several groups that work with animals in the country. President Mauricio Macri, while mayor of the City of Buenos Aires from 2007 to 2015, founded the Agency for the Protection of the Environment (APrA) in order to increase sterilizations from 6,000 to 100,000 annually. The APrA is also in charge of treating diseases and punishing animal abusers. There is no evidence found of plans to update legislation from 1954.
• Following the examples of local legislation in Buenos Aires and in the province of Mendoza, the Government of Argentina is strongly encouraged to promote humane dog population management, which relies on promoting responsible ownership, mass dog vaccinations and reproduction control programmes. Culling is unnecessary, cruel and has been proven to be ineffective. The Government of Argentina should also implement education programmes on dog bite prevention. Provincial governments are encouraged to continue to regulate population control and other issues related to companion animals.
• The Government of Argentina is encouraged to engage with the International Companion Animal Management (ICAM) coalition to learn about and implement their dog population management methodology. This methodology consists of a full cycle of action, addressing the root causes of conflict between roaming dog and communities. The document is helpful to governments to manage dogs humanely as well as to help communities to live in harmony with dogs.
• The Government of Argentina should promote responsible pet ownership, including the adoption of companion animals over the purchase of commercially bred animals.
Protecting animals used for draught and recreation
Animals used for entertainment
Some provinces and cities have produced legislation limiting or banning altogether the use of animals in circuses. There is a ban on the use of animals in circuses in over 20 cities. An example of this can be found in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, where Law 1446 produced in 2004 contains a general ban on the use of any animals in circuses.
The legislation on working animals seems to have been one of the main concerns of the 1954 legislation, which established a group of criminal offences when abusing draught animals. Apart from these general anti-cruelty provisions, however, there does not seem to be species-specific welfare standards for animals used for draught.
• Moreover, the Government of Argentina is urged to forbid the organisation of and attendance to entertainment events causing animal suffering, such as animal races or direct interaction with wild animals.
• The Government of Argentina is urged to adopt national legislation specifically addressing the treatment of animals used in draught and for recreational purposes. Working animals must be treated with consideration and must be given adequate shelter, exercise, care, food and water appropriate to their physiological and behavioural needs. Any condition which may impair their welfare must be treated promptly and, if necessary, they must not be worked again until they are fit. They must not be overworked or overloaded, nor must they be forced to work through ill-treatment.
Protecting animals used in scientific research
The use of animal testing for cosmetic products does not appear to be restricted in legislation. In June 2015, Senator Magdalena Odarda introduced a Bill proposing to end the animal testing of cosmetics ingredients and prohibit the sale of new cosmetics tested on animals in Argentina, after a two-year phase-out period. Violation of the law would result in hefty fines which would be used for animal welfare programmes in the country. At the time of writing, it is unclear whether this Bill has been adopted.
This may result from the fact that the legislation was produced in 1954, so it does not take into account the technologies and models in existence which could provide better replacement alternatives and that have influenced countries around the world to tighten regulations on animal experimentation. The Government is encouraged to review the existing legislation in light of these international developments.
The Argentinian system for animal protection does not have a body or organ tasked with the development of further legislation and policy in this area, except for the category of animals used in farming. Legislation for the protection of animals used in scientific research requires a higher level of technical definition, without which animal welfare can be potentially compromised or implementation can become a matter of individual interpretation. The legislation would benefit greatly from further details and from the allocation of human resource and financial resource to drive progress in this area.
• The Government of Argentina is urged to enact legislation which would protect all animals used in scientific research from unnecessary pain and suffering. The Three Rs principles – Replacement, Reduction, Refinement – should be enshrined in legislation.
• The Government of Argentina is encouraged to create ethics committees, in charge of scrutinising applications for animal research. Such ethics committees should be able to suspend the activities or revoke the registration of establishments which do not respect animal welfare criteria. Animals used for research should be provided with shelter, care, food and water in a manner appropriate to their physiological and behavioural needs. A nominated member of the laboratory staff, preferably a veterinarian, must have full responsibility for animal welfare at all times.
• Moreover, the Government of Argentina is strongly encouraged to create a national centre made of multiple stakeholders, including animal protection organisations, to promote the Three Rs principles and to develop alternatives to animal experimentation.
• Furthermore, the Government of Argentina is urged to ban the testing of cosmetic products and their ingredients on animals.
Protecting the welfare of wild animals
The Wildlife Conservation Law 22421 of 1981 regulates conservation and the use of wild fauna in Argentina. Article 1 establishes that the protection of wild fauna is of public interest, and therefore all citizens have the duty to protect it. The protection, conservation, population management and sustainable exploitation of wildlife are of public interest and establishes that provincial regulation will take conservation as the primary concern over cultural, economic, recreational, aesthetical and other benefits that wildlife may offer. Article 3 defines the scope of application of the legislation, which applies to all wild animals, wild animals who live in captivity and domestic animals, who return to wildlife under specific circumstances. Article 19 sets a framework in which provincial legislation may be developed at provincial level. Each province within Argentina has a degree of autonomy regarding regulation of the conservation of wild animals and examples of legislation can be found for each province. Chapter VII of Law 22421 establishes that each province will allocate responsibility in a dedicated authority. Article 22 establishes the functions and responsibilities of said authority, including administering the funds for the implementation of the law, and establishes that the national authority can provide subsidies to provinces for the enactment of the legal objectives.
Chapter V lays out hunting regulations. Article 16 determines that each province will establish specific limitations on hunting. Hunting is regulated through a licence permit scheme.
The legislation introduces concepts of animal health for wild animals and a framework for illegal trafficking of certain species. The legislation also promotes the creation of sanctuaries for the protection of wildlife as a ‘preferred’ option for the conservation of wildlife (Article 19) but does not prohibit the existence of private or public profit-making collections. There are also specific legal restrictions on hunting particular species of wild animals; for example, Law 25577 (cetaceans) and Law 25052 (orca whales).
The Argentinian Constitution contains similar wording by which it is expressed that biodiversity and a safe environment are rights that should be enjoyed by citizens. As such, the legislation has several provisions within the spectrum of conservation, for which protection of ecosystems and collective populations are a priority. As such, the legislation does not necessarily derive from a perspective where animal welfare and the protection of individual animals are the priority.
Establishment of supportive government bodies
This goal examines government commitment to animal protection. This includes whether there is allocation of responsibility, accountability and resources within government to protect animals.
Government accountability for animal welfare
The National Service of Health and Quality of Agricultural Food (SENASA), an organ of the Ministry of Agriculture, produced legislation in 2002 and 2004 under which a National Commission for Animal Welfare was created. This Commission comprises representatives from various sectors, including veterinarians, the agricultural sector, as well as animal welfare and rights organisations. There is no formal evidence that this Commission acts beyond the sphere of welfare of animals used in farming, but representatives of this Commission do appear to represent the wider spectrum of animal welfare in conferences and regional summits on the subject matter. Likewise, there is evidence of legislation mandates according to which provincial authorities should be appointed for the implementation of laws on conservation and protection of wild animals.
Support for international animal welfare standards
This goal looks at whether the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)’s animal welfare standards have been incorporated into law or policy, and whether the Government is supportive of the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.
OIE animal welfare standards
The Argentinian system of animal protection covers some of the issues that appear in the animal welfare standards of the OIE. However, there are several issues that do not appear in Argentinian legislation or policy, such as stray dog population control at the national level, and standards for broiler chicken production systems. Further development is desirable regarding existing regulations on slaughter, transport and the use of animals in research.
Support for the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare
Note: The UDAW is a proposed formal international acknowledgement of a set of principles giving animal welfare due recognition among governments and the international community. An expression of support for the UDAW demonstrates a government’s commitment to working with the international community to improve animal welfare.